Briefly describe the work you do.
My work is driven by irrational, personal necessities and ideas. The sort of pure ideas that have nothing to do with external realities and often nothing to do with anything. In fact, much of my work is concerned with the function and value of nothing. If something functions just to function, what is its value? My physical work is an attempt at creating valuable objects and installations whose purpose is to exist as a functioning entity. Often, I utilize archival practices in order to allude to or distribute importance. Another outlet that I frequent is making performance objects, most of which function with no universally valuable outcome ( function just to function. )
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
My introduction to the idea of making anything was probably through drawing and Legos. Drawing was extremely important to me as a kid and for the longest time I was positive I would spend my life as an illustrator. Looking back on that time, however, I think the form of making that was most influential today was inventing games with my brother. We would scramble around looking for tubes and rolls and pipes to make mini-golf courses or really long Hot Wheels tracks. We had a trampoline at that time, which was a creative haven for game making as well.
This type of thinking is much different than of illustration. An idea requires the aid of physical objects and the repurposing of the objects to complete a function: game idea + ( tennis ball + carpet roll ) = fun. Whereas with illustration, I was following an internal, more bodily idea, which would continue with me through high school and most of college.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I hold very little attachment to the concept of the “studio” and yet, practice is an all-encompassing concept that I hold onto dearly. You could say that I have a studio, but it’s also where I sleep, eat and live. But neither is it my apartment. I can’t quite put a name to it, which is what makes it exciting to me. It’s a basement space, which creates a dark, brooding environment that one may relate to the diluted image of the “lone artist,” but there is also a backyard, where I do most of the dirty work. Much of my physical work involves metal, which I either fabricate in my room or at my boss’s fabrication studio ( GOSPAD inc. ), depending on the nature of the work.On the other hand, many of my ideas are developed while I’m walking around or lying down and have little to do with my location. When I’m not thinking about immediate problems, I’m working out ideas. I’ve always romanticized about the idea of a definitive “studio space,” where you walk in, put down your stuff and engage; however, I’ve learned to accept that my brain doesn’t have an off switch.Therefore, I just live in it and try to make the best out of it.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
As of the past year, I’ve been working with a good friend of mine on a flexible entity called United Projects. United Projects exists to encourage the exchange of information and ideas through sharing open discussions, project development, resources, space and skills. Much of this exchange is done through the curation of group shows that present and rely on a latent concept. I’ve always been a heavy proponent of collaboration as a necessity, but was never drawn to curating. It’s becoming more clear to me that curating a group show could function to propose or investigate and idea, just as putting materials together to create a sculpture or installation can. The advantage that curating has on studio work is, being that your materials are people with ideas of their own, you can create a context and guidelines, but you have limited control over what comes out. I think you learn a lot from rolling the dice in this way.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
The people who have the greatest impact on my life are the people who are genuinely interested in discussing work and, therefore, life, with me. It is through long-winded, open discussion that I continuously learn new ways to explain the ever-elusive purpose behind making work. Gabriel Weinstock is a conceptual artist, co-founder of United Projects, full-time collaborator ( The BTTAA ) and my left hand when it comes to these sort of discussions. His work and ideas have an ever-continuing impact on my own. My father’s practice of Scrimshaw, a historical maritime art form, and his love of antiques has had full control of my aesthetic decisions and inspired my draw towards the archive. My mother’s devotion to psychotherapy, spiritual direction, writing, teaching and practice of mindfulness has largely shaped myself as a thinker. Kristen Schrijver ( Ceramicist ), William de la Motte ( Guitarist / Composer ) and Benjamin Kiracofe ( Brother / Writer / Photographer ) are people whose uniquely dedicated discussion I could not function without.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I would most likely be facilitating an organization like United Projects, where I could be producing art events, workshops, residencies, lectures and curating shows. I know this is kind of a cop-out, because I believe that individuals who do this sort of work have a very substantive art practice ( as much as and often more so than studio artists. ) I guess I could see myself being some sort of traveling archivist as a private contractor, for museums and for personal collections or something. That’s a really hard question. Sometimes everything sounds worthwhile to me and sometimes nothing makes sense.